Library Juice 6:17 - August 14, 2003
2. Mark Rosenzweig replies to Library Journal editorial on USIA
3. Discourse and Censorship: Librarians and the Ideology of Freedom
4. Manifesto of Avante-Garde Librarianship
Quote for the week:
"The library is not an institution which exists removed from our
increasingly interdependent and politicized world. The professionals
who control America's information institutions ... cannot retreat
into those institutions and ignore the larger society. The result of
this sort of myopic professionalism is to support intellectual freedom
for those who have power while denying it to those who are powerless."
- Jane Robbins, _Library Journal_, January 1973. Quoted in Mark Alfino
and Linda Pierce, _Information Ethics for Librarians_ (Jefferson, NC:
Homepage of the week: Mary Carmen Chimato
Academic Serials in Communication Unified System (ASCUS)
A proposal for a librarian/non-profit controlled database for literature
in Communication Studies.
[ sent by Tim Stephen to COMLIB-L ]
New issue of JCMC - Volume 8, Issue 4
"Internet Networks: The Form and the Feel"
Anne Beaulieu and Han Woo Park, Special Issue Editors
[ sent by Brad Owen to multiple recipients ]
Elizabeth Morrissett died July 19 in Boulder, CO
[ sent by Linda Pierce to SRRTAC-L ]
[ sent by Don Wood to IFACTION ]
Copyright Protection for Federally Funded Research: Necessary Incentive
or Double Subsidy? (Draft: August 1, 2003) by Samuel E. Trosow.
"A Fight for Free Access To Medical Research" by Rick Weiss
[ sent to me by Sam Trosow ]
TECHSPLOITATION: Why I Infringe
By Annalee Newitz, AlterNet
July 30, 2003
[ found surfing ]
(About the free press and media monopoly)
[ sent by Don Wood to IFACTION ]
Listserv for librarians going to Burning Man
brclib-subscribe[at]topica.com or email Holly Eggleston at holly[at]negentropy.net
[ sent by Maureen Knapp to LU ]
A person using the handle LU is attacking the institution of librarianship as
a profession on the newsgroup soc.libraries.talk. If you want to check him
[ found surfing ]
Fox Sues Al Franken
Fox is suing Al Franken to force him to change the name of his new book.
It has the phrase "Fair and Balanced" in the title. Fox News trademarked
the expression "Fair and Balanced" in 1995.
[ link from Don Wood to IFACTION ]
Selling Out: Our Public Space, Universal Services Under Assault
By Ralph Nader, Common Dreams News Center, Aug. 13, 2003
[ from LISNews.com ]
Theological Libraries: Historical Sources
[ sent to me by David Stewart ]
2. Mark Rosenzweig replies to Library Journal editorial on USIA
Subject: Reply to Editorial on USIA
From: Mark Rosenzweig <iskra[at]earthlink.net>
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2003 20:27:15 -0400
Reply to Editorial 'Librarians Are Public Diplomats' by John N.
Berry III, Editor-in-Chief -- 7/15/2003
It seems that 'propaganda' is a word reserved for what the other guy says.
The USIA, although founded by recruits with good intentions no doubt,
was, however, quite straightforwardly, the propaganda arm abroad of
the US Government. What propaganda and librarianship have to do with
one another in American terms would be an interesting disquisition.
But that matter is avoided in this editorial.
In the post WWII period the USIA quickly evolved into an instrument
of Cold War politics.
Yes, government libraries abroad were the initial targets of the
detestable clowns, Roy Cohn and David Shine, who were sent to
'investigate' allegations that these libraries of ours in Europe
carried books by Communist and subversive authors. But as these
emissaries of Senator McCarthy's committee pranced drunkenly across
Europe, they nonetheless needed only to invoke the committee's
authority to have 'USIA' libraries remove every book on their list
without public complaint and with cringing conformity.
This lack of resistance from government librarians to removal of all
books by authors out of favor with the witch-hunters behind McCarthy,
emboldened his minion's campaign to rid the entire US government of
everyone McCarthy slurred as Communists and Communist sympathizers,
which types he claimed riddled the heights and depths of the
administration, creating, in the wake of these allegations, the
hysterical postwar phase of anti-Red mania associated now with the
The USIA went on to become the obedient servant of Cold War
strategists, and its libraries, purged of suspicious books, were, I'm
afraid, guided more by the vagaries of propaganda strategies than by
any sense of the values of intellectual freedom, principles which had
to be finally asserted, in fact, precisely AGAINST the very
government which they served, at the height of the witch-hunt in the
US itself, in the famous' Freedom to Read' appeal by the ALA and the
ACLU and others.
The libraries of the USIA and the projects of the USIA more generally
were known -- everywhere but here --- for covert intelligence
gathering, recruitment of spies and even the dissemination of 'black
propaganda', which is to say, helping in strategic campaigns of
misinformation meant to destabilize governments.
The USIA at the time of its liquidation by the Administration was
receiving at least a billion government dollars in their budget and
was widely known internationally as the conduit for soft monies for
all kinds of CIA covert operations (by the way, this function has
been taken over by USAID, another favorite partner of ALA). It also
did other things,sometimes very good things, funding research and
even US librarians projects abroad, something which made them a
favorite agency of the ALA and US librarians anxious to go help the
natives elsewhere. Some of the research however --and who knows if
library research was involved -- directly served US intelligence
interests and either served as a cover or was actually, if covertly,
involved in research projects directly useful to Cold War
policy-making. Ultimately USIA became kind of bloated cash cow and
was finally done away with.
After the Cold War, their global show of magnanimity was no longer
necessary. And their discretion and desire to keep up some appearance
of independence was a thorn in the side of Reagan and Bush. But, that
hardly makes them and their librarians the model apostles of the kind
of public foreign diplomacy which we librarians collectively should
So I find it difficult to shed a tear for the USIA, its libraries,
its librarians or the librarians of the US embassies who remained as
a bibliographic presence in foreign countries, now perhaps even more
openly the propaganda arm of the US government than before. No more
was subtlety and guile necessary for government librarians abroad in
this new world order. Only naivete or self-serving blindness to the
increasingly coercive, bullying role of the US abroad, hardly
something which could be cosmeticized by their libraries.
In the end, in US terms, propaganda and librarianship are a bad mix,
especially when you try to deny you're mixing the two.
3. Discourse and Censorship: Librarians and the Ideology of Freedom
By Steven R. Harris
Counterpoise 10/31/1999 V.3; N.3/4 p. 14
By way of introduction, I would like to give a few warnings about my point
of view, just so there will be no confusion about my political orientation
or the impression that I have a hidden agenda. First, while I believe
strongly in the rights of individuals regarding intellectual freedom, there
are certain of these rights that I think should not be applied to
Secondly, my goal today is to alienate you from the perceived principles and
foundations of librarianship. I do this, however, not because I enjoy
antagonizing people, but because there are areas where I think we could
make valuable changes in the profession.
Third, I must say that I'm an unrepentant post-structuralist. You can go
ahead and blame me now, as seems popular in the media these days, for all
the problems of academia.
And since I will be talking about post-structuralism, I might as well also
warn you that I will undoubtedly be using the "F" word today: "Foucault!" A
quotation from Michel Foucault (1984) may serve to explain my intent. He
The critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical
analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the
possibility of going beyond them.
To begin then, it is a widely held belief that intellectual freedom is at
the very foundation of what librarianship is all about. Gordon Conable
states in the "Intellectual Freedom Manual" that:
Libraries embody the firm belief that information must not be the exclusive
province of a privileged few and that it should be widely and freely
available to all.
Yet, it seems the rhetoric of this statement does not coincide with library
practice. This may appear, on the face of it, to be completely absurd. Any
casual examination of our literature will reveal an abundance of books and
articles touting the importance of these values to the profession of
librarianship. I would argue, however, that a "close" examination of the
literature reveals uncertainty and vagueness on these issues.
Wayne Wiegand makes a similar charge in a recent issue of Library Trends
and, furthermore, remarks that we are blind to ideas outside our own
[T]he library profession has, for several generations now, been content not
to engage in debate with outside experts, not to leave its insulated
world.... Nowhere are the unquestioned absolutes more evident than in the
discourse surrounding the Library Bill of Rights .... By the last decade of
the twentieth century, this discourse seems to have evolved a reality of
its own that declines to engage the powerful ideas being debated in a
broader intellectual world.
The ideas of the broader intellectual world that Wiegand refers to are
mainly those of "cultural critique" and "post-structuralism." Although many
of these methods have been applied in other social and humanistic fields
for over 30 years, librarianship has remained fairly impervious to
them--excepting the occasional incursion by Michael Harris, Wayne Wiegand,
and a few other scholars.
Discourse theory is one of the recent critical ideas that can, I think, shed
light on how librarians have come to adopt certain ideologies and how those
ideologies operate, through discourse, within the profession. It explores
how our discourse reproduces, over and over, the values of the ruling
ideology. It is also a method we can use to examine how our current beliefs
came to hold their current configuration. This is not actually "history"
per se, but what Nietzsche called a "Genealogy of Morals":
[T]here is a world of difference between the reason for something coming
into existence in the first place and the ultimate use to which it is put,
its actual application and integration into a system of goals ...
Louise Robbins observed this phenomenon at work in the library profession
through the "sometimes contradictory dual purposes" of our intellectual
freedom stance, which is divided in its goals, as I shall explain later,
between a desire to protect individual rights, and a need to establish
Discourse, as Foucault repeatedly noted, is a system of meaning formation
that is grounded in social and material institutions. But it is not a
system that is taught and learned in the traditional sense of those words.
It arises only through initiation and experience. The truth that a
particular discourse reveals, however, always masks the very process that
produced it. Edward Said describes this process more extensively:
One does not really make discourse at will, or statements in it, without
first belonging--in some cases unconsciously, but at any rate
involuntarily--to the ideology and institutions that guarantee its
Louis Althusser extends this idea to say that ideologies are always
expressed in material existence; that ideologies regenerate themselves
through the material institutions that they create; that ideology becomes
(or is always) identical to the "lived experience." Thus in librarianship,
for example, there is no difference between "being" and librarian and
"believing" in the ideology of librarianship.
Foucault has discussed this model a great deal, particularly as it applies
to the development of "disciplines" within the social sciences. He has
identified the gatekeeper function that all disciplines perform, and how
the gatekeepers of a discipline maintain and confer status within the
field. Educational programs, such as library schools, perform the initial
indoctrination, but many other institutions continue the function of
delimiting the field of study. Institutions such as professional,
peer-reviewed journals maintain a unity of voice within the subject. The
process of promotion and tenure insures that an acceptable approach to the
subject is employed. All these mechanisms provide the discipline with a
means of maintaining its chosen ground. There is a sort of play on words
throughout Foucault's work that all disciplines (noun) involve the
discipline (verb) of its subjects, that the disciplining of knowledge
involves the literal physical disciplining of bodies. Ultimately, this
means that all disciplines practice a rather severe form of censorship on
Another focus of post-structuralist critical theory has been an
interrogation of the principles of Enlightenment liberal
humanism--principles which librarianship takes as sacrosanct. Some have
called this vein of post-modern discussion "anti-humanism." Others have
said that this approach demonstrates a lack of belief in individual
freedoms on the part of the post-structuralist practitioners. The recent
so-called "Culture Wars" is an attack on the supposed "undemocratic"
impulse behind current theory. But I think this is a misreading of the
post-structuralist approach. Theorists like Foucault and Althusser, along
with Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse, have noted repeatedly that many of the
ideas of "enlightenment" are in fact used as instruments of oppression.
Not surprisingly, much of this critique proceeds from a belief in Marxist
principles and a rejection of capitalism. Sue Curry Jansen says, for
example, that "libertarian ideals arose under conditions of colonial
repression and matured in consonance with the maturation of industrial
capitalism." Adorno, Horkheimer, and Herbert Schiller further assert that
the development of a "culture industry" has enabled certain "elites" to
monopolize and manipulate the "culture" and "media"--and present an outward
belief in freedom, while at the same time actually rejecting any true
freedom of expression. This establishes, in the words of Horkheimer and
Adorno, an "Enlightenment of Mass Deception."
Herbert Marcuse expands on this idea in an article entitled: "Repressive
[T]olerance is an end in itself only when it is truly universal, practiced
by the rulers as well as by the ruled, by the lords as well as by the
peasants, by the sheriffs as well as by their victims."
Lest we think Marcuse refers only to a feudal past, rather than our own
modern times, Robert McChesney observes that "In our society, corporations
and the wealthy enjoy a power every bit as immense as that enjoyed by the
lords and royalty of feudal times."
McChesney also recognizes the hypocrisy of a corporate media establishment
that goes to great lengths to tell us that any challenge to their power is
a challenge to democracy itself. Thus, the recent Telecommunications Act,
which gave away great amounts of public bandwidth to a very few media
conglomerates, is touted as a "Great Day for America." Or, to give another
example, any discussion of limiting campaign spending by the very wealthy
is called an infringement of First Amendment principles.
Librarianship functions pretty much in ignorance of this kind of cultural
discussion. As Michael Harris noted almost 15 years ago, librarianship is
founded on a firm belief in the pluralism of our society--that we are all
free agents with equal access to ideas and that ideas circulate freely
within a system of production that controls only the "quality."
The notion of intellectual freedom in librarianship rests largely on
Enlightenment ideals, such as the concept of a free press. Journalism
itself reveres revolution-era America as the birthplace of a fully free and
autonomous press. Part of this belief is a mythology that arises, as Sue
Jansen notes, in the need to establish journalism as a discipline, to
elevate it to a Profession.
"Journalistic professionalism," she says, "succeeded in reducing the
visibility of abuses of the free press." But it also disenfranchised lay
criticism by fostering the impression that members of the public lack the
"expert technical and managerial knowledge necessary to comprehend and
debate, competently, issues involving editorial decision-making." Today,
however, as press ownership has become more and more obscured by corporate
bureaucracy, the notion of who, precisely, is responsible for the editorial
content becomes more and more obscured also. As Jansen notes, this renders
the true censor "invisible and thereby permit[s them] ... to operate
outside of the rules of participatory democracy."
As in the journalistic professions, a reverence of librarianship for the
ideas of liberal Enlightenment will not allow for a questioning of these
writings. This is not unusual, in view of that fact that the profession's
own immediate past is infused with anything but liberal enlightenment. It
is as though we would skip backward over our own history and adopt
something nobler. Therefore, we frequently see appeals to John Stuart Mill,
John Locke, and John Milton in the library literature. Milton's
Areopagitica is particularly popular.
Fred Stielow, for example, who is an otherwise insightful historian, I might
add, quotes extensively from Milton ("As good almost kill a Man as kill a
good Book.") and then asserts that "this view prefigures the opinions of
many librarians today." That may literally be true, but it is a view of
Milton that fails to look behind the rhetoric of Areopagitica, which was,
after all, an impassioned and partisan plea delivered before Parliament.
Jansen says it is better "read as personal and sectarian pleading: as a
lobby for special privileges for authors who belong to certain Puritan
churches ..." and that "this apostle of Liberalism served as a Censor to
What then is the history that we skip over when me embrace the
Enlightenment? A number of historians, including Stielow, Harris, Wiegand,
Louis Robbins, Evelyn Geller, and Dennis Thomison have noted that it is a
history of continually striving to attain professional respect and
autonomy, and that censorship figured prominently in that history from
start to finish.
The America of the late 1800s was a decidedly different place than what we
now occupy. The society of the time clearly favored "high" over "low"
culture, aristocratic over proletarian values. Librarianship in America
developed squarely within this milieu. Harris argues that it arose because
of this sentiment, the desire not only to "uplift" the masses, but perhaps
more so, to "control" them. It was probably not that clear-cut; many
librarians truly wanted to do both. When married with the idea, firmly held
by librarians, of the inherent pluralism of our society, the desire to
uplift can then be seen as a simple technical problem--"The Best Books to
the Most People" in Deweian terms--and requires no thought as to ideology
or social ramifications.
In the nineteenth century, the desire to procure the "best books" meant
censorship was viewed as a vital part of what a librarian did. In an
article entitled "The Librarian as Censor," written at the beginning of the
20th century, Arthur Bostwick makes a humorous reference to Shakespeare in
saying that librarians had censorship "thrust upon them." This is a rather
inaccurate or at least misguided view of library history. If anything,
librarians seized upon censorship as their own personal bailiwick. As
Evelyn Geller notes, the value of censorship was that it allowed for
professional autonomy for librarians, autonomy from the clientele and
superiority to the clientele. The values of the librarian rather than the
interests of the public drove book collecting. This attitude developed, in
Geller's view, largely because the public was the most easily confronted
constituency. At a time when their professional values depended to a degree
on community acceptance, "the notion of censorship or freedom required a
community mandate," and "acceptance of the librarian's authority." Rather
than seek autonomy from government of public agents, librarians sought
autonomy from public opinion. They curried favor, however, with their
boards and government superiors by adopting a class view of freedom.
Censorship could be attacked, if you were talking about restricting the
rights of the upper crust, but since the lower classes could be adversely
affected by "coarse" literature, they had best be protected from such
Geller and Stielow note how the professional attitudes toward censorship
gradually began to change as the 20th century progressed, but ironically,
that this change was still motivated by the desire to maintain professional
autonomy. By the 1920s, Geller says:
The freedom invoked was the institutional defense of freedom, in which
trustees and librarians united against community censors--a defense
consistent with ALA's courtship of trustees.
The opposition to censorship lay in protecting the librarian's discretion in
developing the collection. Self-censorship, after all, could achieve the
same end as legislated or legalistic measures.
It was only in the wake of McCarthyism that librarianship began to develop a
different notion of freedom, one that insisted on the librarian's autonomy
from direct government control. But Red Baiting inspired the profession to
adopt a different tactic in defending their prerogative--Patriotism! We
began to wrap ourselves in the flag to fend off attacks by McCarthy's
goons. And we had a new weapon in this defense: The Library Bill of Rights.
The LBR is an interesting document from a discourse point of view. Its
references to the U.S. constitution are of course clear. It implies that
librarians were, after all, defending the freedoms handed down to us by the
Founding Fathers. ALA adopted its first LBR in 1948, but it was a several
years before the values it espoused were widely held by librarians.
In 1953, the "Freedom to Read" statement was drafted, as an augmentation of
the LBR. In the FTR, librarians enlisted the support of publishers and
booksellers. FTR stated that "Freedom to read is ESSENTIAL to our
democracy." Much like the LBR, it said that the library was "an institution
to educate for democratic living." As though "democratic living" was
impossible without libraries. Librarians began to trot out the LBR and FTR
as a demonstration of their unbiased defense of intellectual freedom,
despite the fact that, as Robbins observes, "their boards were composed
almost exclusively of white middle- to upper-class individuals." And males
at that, I might add.
Both these documents, however, are full of equivocation about intellectual
freedom. In the freedoms that it outlined, the FTR made concessions to the
great fear of obscenity, stating that the laws against it should be
vigorously enforced. The LBR in its various revisions went to great pains
to deny protection to "untrue" publications, leaving to the librarian the
determination of what was and was not true. It was only in the late 1960
that these equivocal elements were edited away.
Even after many revisions the LBR continues to be a problematic document. It
calls itself a "bill of rights," but its points don't address whose rights
are being protected, in fact, most of the statements don't sound like
rights at all, but more like professional obligations. Use of the passive
voice is pervasive: "Materials should not be excluded," it says. Excluded
by whom, we are not told. Libraries should provide materials on a variety
of issues, it says. As though libraries were themselves autonomous.
"Libraries should challenge censorship." Can a library challenge
censorship, or isn't that the task of the librarian? "Libraries should
cooperate" with those who oppose censorship. Again, can libraries act in
The absence of any librarians in the LBR, much less an active verb, is
unusual and very telling. Clearly, the document is intended to educate us
about our professional responsibilities, but it also seems addressed to the
general public, stating in a very passive aggressive way that "this is the
way libraries are--get used to it."
Only in the late 1960s and early 1970s did some notion that perhaps
librarians were not doing such a great job of protecting democracy begin to
penetrate the profession. In 1968 the Social Responsibilities Round Table
was born, riding on the belief that many kinds of publications were not
finding their way onto the library shelf--that librarians were guilty of
holding the same biases and prejudices as the population at large. In 1972
this view came into full conflict with the status quo, when the old guard
made a frontal assault on the new socially responsible upstarts. David
Berninghausen, a former chair of ALA's Intellectual Freedom Committee, in
an article published in Library Journal, attacked the notion of Social
Responsibility within librarianship: "Antithesis in Librarianship: Social
Responsibility vs. the Library Bill of Rights." The language of the title
itself clearly delineated Berninghausen's view. There is no gray area:
librarians cannot be socially responsible and uphold the LBR at the same
time. Since, as he goes on to state, intellectual freedom is the very
foundation of librarianship, then those who practice social responsibility
are doing something other than librarianship. A collection of essays
Berninghausen published a few years later takes the same moral high ground.
In The Flight from Reason he implies that maintaining an unbiased attitude
toward the library and its collections is a direct philosophical descendant
of rational Enlightenment humanism. He takes great pleasure in casting his
own point of view as "rational" and the opinion of his opposition as based
only on "gut reaction," as he calls it.
While the whole conflict probably cemented SRRT's place within ALA, as Toni
Samek has pointed out, Berninghausen really won out in the end
[Berninghausen scared] librarians away from the topic of social
responsibility by playing to ALA's deep concern for legality and...
"action-crippling fear" about its "extremely favorable tax-status."
Such fears "paralyzed the library community" from further involvement in
I want to turn for a moment to a discussion of the term "marketplace of
ideas," because it is often recognized as an important element of
Enlightenment thinking. I believe it is a damaging metaphor when used to
describe how ideas should circulate and how libraries should operate.
The notion that ideas can and should function much like products in a market
is often attributed to J.S. Mill, but it is a phrase, much like "Survival
of the Fittest," that is associated with a thinker who never actually used
it. The idea of the marketplace probably owes more to Supreme Court Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes than to Mill. Holmes stated in one opinion the "the
best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in
the competition of the market." Mill however went to great lengths to say
that the power of the most popular ideas should never be absolute over
minority opinions. He held such a power to be as dangerous as any direct
[Society] practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of
political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme
penalties, it leaves few means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into
the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself ... There needs
protections also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling.
This view is nearly identical with the post-structuralist notions of
cultural hegemony. The idea that the market will produce truth is the most
dangerous aspect of such thinking. As social theorist Jill Gordon states,
the market responds most to those with the most money or those who are most
numerous. Or as Robert McChesney says, "a commercial marketplace of ideas
may generate the maximum returns for investors, but that does not mean it
will generate the highest caliber of political exchange."
It is apparent that an ever-increasing amount of the cultural output of our
society is controlled by an every smaller number of corporate entities and
that our continued belief in the pluralism of our information pathways is
untenable. A growing body of library literature makes this point. Pat
Schuman, for example, pointed out nearly 20 years ago that the library
community was neglecting the alternative press and was thus presenting a
biased view of the world. Judith Serebnick has shown how libraries depend
on a limited number of review sources when making selections, and how
reviews themselves are not equitably available. A large corporate press,
for example, can afford to distribute review copies in numbers that a small
publisher could never do. Therefore, many titles are never reviewed at all.
In another study, Anna Perrault has shown that many academic libraries are
becoming more and more homogeneous, as they depend for their collections on
the same few vendors and the same few approval plans. Rita Marinko and
Kristin Gerhard have also shown that although many academic libraries
subscribe to the Alternative Press Index, very few of them hold
subscriptions to more than a few of the periodicals indexed there.
I have sketched here a general problem with our worldview, but what should
librarians do to change the effects of this ideological stance?
1. Librarians should start recognizing that there are inequities in both the
production and consumption of information, and that libraries themselves
can reinforce those inequalities. The ALA statement "Libraries: An American
Value" says that libraries are the "cornerstones of the communities they
serve." But since only about 20 percent of the people in any community ever
enter a library, we must admit that either we are not as important as we
think, or we are only getting about 20 percent of the democracy that we
2. Library research should concentrate on the effects on libraries of media
conglomeration and homogenization.
3. We should start taking the LBR at its word and begin partnering with
organizations that promote the small press and oppose publishing
conglomeration--since to do so would be to oppose censorship. Groups such
as the Project on Media Ownership, Small Press Distribution, Alternative
Press Center should be welcome partners in any ALA effort.
4. When we see conglomeration happening, like when Bertlesman is buying half
the publishing world, that should be an intellectual freedom issue. When
the Congress gives away large chunks of public bandwidth to an elite few,
that should be an intellectual freedom issue. When telecommunications
monopolies say they can not afford to grant the e-rate discount to schools
and libraries, that should be an intellectual freedom issue.
5. Finally, we should stop congratulating ourselves on how important we are
to democracy and start behaving as though democracy really matters.
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Berninghausen, David. (1972). Social responsibility vs. the Library Bill of
Rights. Library Journal, 97 (20), 3675-3681.
Berninghausen, David. (1975). The Flight from Reason: Essays on Intellectual
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Libraries Press, 121-139.
Conable, Gordon M. (1996). Public libraries and intellectual freedom. In
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Gordon, Jill. (1997). John Stuart Mill and the "marketplace of ideas."
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Harris, Michael H. (1986). State, class, and cultural reproduction: Toward a
theory of library service in the United States. Advances in Librarianship,
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Horkheimer, Max, and Adorno, Theodor. (1994). Dialectic of Enlightenment.
New York: Continuum.
Jansen, Sue Curry. (1991). Censorship: The Knot that Binds Power and
Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Marcuse, Herbert. (1965). Repressive tolerance. In Robert Paul Wolff,
Barrington Moore, Jr., and Herbert Marcuse, Critique of Pure Tolerance (pp
81-117). New York: Beacon Press.
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The content of Counterpoise may be reprinted at will for non-profit
purposes. Counterpoise (ISSN 1092-0714) is an alternative review journal
published quarterly since January 1997. It is edited by Charles Willett
and an international group of librarians and subject specialists. More
information about Counterpoise can be found at http://liblib.com
4. MANIFESTO OF AVANT-GARDE LIBRARIANSHIP
Shake in your shoes bureaucrats! The time has come for a
realization of the theory-death of the librarian, embodied in
the revolutionary struggle for liberation from this odious
The weapons of contestation at our disposal have so far been
exposed as inadequate. We must forge new tools from extreme
The revolutionary theory developed by the various
avante-garde tendencies of this century has had no influence
within our miserable milieu. We must resuscitate ourselves
before we die of boredom.
The poverty of library theory is everywhere apparent. Are we
to be just another branch of the bureaucratic management of
coffee-table knowledge? Are we the soft police of social
As usual it has been left to those outside our so called
"profession" to open our eyes. Our rationales are
fragmenting on the road to ruin. What should we do?
The librarian is the narrator of a story that has lost its
authority, the complacent host of a canon now exploded.
The classifications we invented now reinvent us daily, we are
losing control as control leads us, inevitably, to more
control. Our rules have been turned upon us and we have been
sentenced to an eternity of silence.
Paradigmatic shifts in the fields of knowledge and
information have left us with little to call our own. We are
seduced and abandoned in a sea of data with no shore.
The media image of the librarian is a travesty. The real
situation is ten times worse. We must exorcise those who
wish to see more of the shame as we leave the 20th century.
We must recruit those who have no investment in things as
they are, the future will be for those who will create change
without loving it; those who perceive the joy of creation
behind every destruction.
In the field of the cultural we live in a lie of autonomy.
Publishing is an area as sullied as any other in a world
dictated by the commodity and exchange-value. The file of
information is a commodity like anything else, a can of beans
on the supermaket/library shelf. The library is now a
shopping mall full of boring, aimless academics.
We must determine new relationships for ourselves in order to
give the greatest gift of all, the gift of liberation from the
past for a new situation really worth living.
-Movement for an Avant-garde Librarianship, London, 23/1/93
(Published in _Progressive Librarian_ No. 8, Fall, 1993)
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